Early in the season, I openly questioned whether it was diligent for the Senators to squander the first year of Karlsson's entry-level contract as the undersized rookie gets acclimatized to the North American style of hockey. At the time, I augmented my argument by alluding to the combination of: his inexperience; his size; and the organization's ability to let him adjust to pro hockey in the AHL without losing a year off of his contract. I reasoned that because of these factors, allowing Karlsson to develop at the NHL was the wrong move to make because I didn't believe that he could be a serviceable improvement over incumbents like Chris Campoli, Brian Lee and Alexandre Picard.
I was wrong.
Erik, while I'm not willing to publicly decree that you will be the next Alfredsson within five years, I will say this. Not only have you surpassed all expectations with your recent play, I've learned a valuable lesson. I will never bet on the likes of Campoli, Picard and Lee again. (Ed. note: Annointing another Alfredsson is ridiculous and borders on heresy at the Church of Alfie. Searching for the next one is as innane as an NBA fans search for the next Michael Jordan. There will never be another Alfredsson for this organization. Never.)
Rekindle the Rivalry With More Of This
More On Phaneuf
I'm a bit empathetic for Flames fans. Sens fans are cut from the same cloth. We thought we'd get more for Heatley as well. (As an aside, has anyone checked in on Pierre McGuire to see if he's come out of his coma now that he has an opportunity to see Dion on a daily basis in Toronto?)
The 6th Sens Podcast
If you haven't listened to it yet because it was buried in this weekend's news, I'd encourage readers to check out the podcast that we recorded last week featuring Neate Sager of Sun Media and an inaugural Senators fan favorite, Darcy Loewen.
According to Erin Nicks, the Senators have a goaltending controversy because Brian Elliott is Brian Elliott and it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.
Brian Elliott may know how to keep the ball rolling, but he certainly didn't start it. That distinction belongs to Mike Brodeur, with his two victories over Montreal and the Rangers in mid-January.
Elliott was then handed the keys, and told not to crash. So far, he's been doing better than expected.
And what does this have to do with Martin Gerber? Well, it would appear like his predecessor, Elliott does not handle pressure with the greatest of ease. However, bring him into an already positive situation, and he'll perform as desired.
Maybe it's just me or maybe it's because it's just a case of the Monday morning blues that I'm having trouble grasping Nicks' assertion that there is a goaltending controversy in Ottawa. Now that Elliott can add the NHL's Second Star of the Week to last week's First Star on his mantle of accomplishments, there's no controversy. The Senators are going to ride the hot hand and stick with Elliott until he falters. When/if that happens, Clouston will give Leclaire an opportunity to reclaim his number one job.
Like the goaltender controversy argument, I don't really understand the hatchet job that Nicks performs by stating that Elliott does not handle pressure with the greatest of ease. In the past year and a half, when the hell has Elliott ever played in a pressure cooker of a game?
The closest he has come to a pressure situation was when Mike Brodeur started this winning streak after the Senators had lost four in a row and fell ill. In coming off of the flu and being thrust into a situation in which his work was going to be measured with Brodeur's short-term success, Elliott had to step up and perform so that his job security wouldn't be questioned.
When will pundits finally give Elliott credit for what he's done throughout his hockey career? Whether it's been Wisconsin, Binghamton or Ottawa, Elliott's development has improved at every level that he has played at. Instead of giving credit to Eli Wilson or feeling compelled to shit down Elliott's throat for overachieving, give credit where it's due. I can't actually believe I'm citing Don Brennan to articulate a point but, he's making saves. The kind of saves he's supposed to make. Sure, he might not be the entertaining, athletic netminder that Pascal Leclaire was supposed to be but Elliott has been able to limit something that he can control -- the number of soft, deflating goals that have become the norm in Ottawa.
Instead of focusing on if/when the wheels are going to fall off the Brian Elliott bandwagon, maybe a bigger concern should be whether or not the Senators are peaking too early.
Another Enigma in the Senators Stable
Playing without their best offensive players for a long stretch (and maybe that was critical to the advancement of the cause), Ottawa has come together. There is visible effort. There is passion. There seems to be a joy about their successes. And with the return of their captain and their talented but enigmatic centre, they are on an eight-game winning streak. Doesn't seem to matter who plays goal. Doesn't seem to matter who plays with whom. What does seem to matter to the players is that they break a sweat on every shift and that they pick themselves up after a loss. ~ Mike Milbury, failed GM and analyst for CBC
Alfredsson For Selke Consideration
Thanks to James Mirtle's work at the Globe & Mail, he has provided some statistics to objectify what Senators fans see on a regular basis. Instead of relying upon the use of plus/minus to determine who is a good defensive player, Mirtle makes use of three measures -- quality of competition, goals against at even strength and goals against on the penalty kill -- to characterize Daniel Alfredsson as one of the elite two-way players in the NHL. As a baseball fan who appreciates how sabermetrics have altered the landscape for evaluating players, it's fantastic to see that hockey has started to move beyond some flawed statistical interpretations of the game.